inside-out photography

man ray

It is no longer the object which, with the trajectories from its extreme points intersecting in the iris, projects a badly reversed image on the surface. The photographer has invented a new method; he presents to space an image that goes beyond it; and the air, with its clenched hands, and its head advantages, captures it and keeps it in its breast.

An eclipse revolves round a partridge: is it a cigarette case? The photographer makes the spit of thoughts revolve to the creaking of a badly-greased moon.

The light varies according to the giddiness of the pupil on the cold paper according to its weight and to the shock it produces. A wisp of a delicate tree enables us to anticipate metalliferous strata, mighty chandeliers. It illuminates the vestibule of the heart with a torch of snowflakes. And what interests us has neither reason nor cause, like a cloud that spits out its abundant voice.

But let us talk art. Yes, art. I know a man who does excellent portraits. The man is a camera. But, you say, the colour and the quivering of the brush are missing. That vague shiver that was first a weakness and later, in order to justify itself, called itself sensitivity. Human imperfection, it would appear, possesses more serious virtues than the exactitude of machines. And what about still lifes? We’d be glad to know whether hors-d’oeuvres, desserts and game hampers don’t excite our appetite more. I listen to the humming of a tube in an oil field, a torpedo twists its mouth, the crockery breaks with the sound of domestic quarrels. Why not make the portrait of all that? Because this applies to a particular disturbance through a channel that leads to those sorts of emotion but which consumes neither eyes nor colours.

Painters have seen this, they’ve got together, talked for a long time, and discovered the laws of decomposition. And the laws of construction. And of circumvolution. And the laws of intelligence and of comprehension, of sales, of reproductions, of dignity and of museum-keeping. Other people arrived later with enlightened cries to say that what the first ones had produced was nothing but bird-droppings. They offered their merchandise instead, an impressionist blueprint reduced to a vulgar but attractive symbol. For a moment I believed in their idiots’ cries, washed by the melting snow, but I soon discovered that it was only sterile jealousy that was tormenting them. They all ended up producing English postcards. After having known Nietzsche and sworn by their mistresses, after having pulled all the enamel paint off the corpses of their friends, they declared that beautiful children were just as admirable as good oil painting, and that the painting that sold for the most money was the best. Noble painting, with curly hair, in gilt frames. That’s their marble; that’s our piss.

When everything that people call art had got the rheumatics all over, the photographer lit the thousands of candles in his lamp, and the sensitive paper gradually absorbed the darkness between the shapes of certain everyday objects. He had invented the force of a fresh and tender flash of lightning which was more important than all the constellations destined for our visual pleasures. Precise, unique and correct mechanical deformation if fixed, smooth and filtered like a head of hair through a comb of light.

Is it a spiral of water, or the tragic gleam of a revolver, an egg, a glittering arc or a sluice gate of reason, a subtle ear with a mineral whistle or a turbine of algebraical formulae? As the mirror effortlessly throws back the image, and the echo the voice, without asking us why, the beauty of matter belongs to no one, for henceforth it is a physico-chemical product.

After the great inventions and storms, all the little swindles of the sensibility, of knowledge, and of the intelligence have been swept up into the pockets of the magical wind. The negotiator of luminous values takes up the bet laid by the stable-boys. The ration of oats they give morning and evening to the horses of modern art won’t be able to disturb the passionate progress of his chess and sun game.

source: Seven Dada Manifestos (no indication of translator or edition)

Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk

(Stieglitz, Duchamp, Ray)

source: Dada New York

Rose Selavy (Marcel Duchamp photographed by Man Ray, c. 1921)
source: Dada New York

Hausmann, Tatlin at Home, 1920

Hausmann, Raoul

Dada Siegt, 1920
Watercolor and collage on wove paper, mounted on board
Overall 23 5/8 x 17 3/4 in.
Private collection

Hausmann, Raoul
The Art Critic
Photomontage and collage
12 3/8 x 9 7/8 in.
Tate Gallery, London
source: ArtArchive

Hannah Höch and Raoul Hausmann
at the First International Dada-Messe, Berlin 1920
[Photograph, 16,5 x 12 cm.]
source: Essential Dada

Dadagraphy: the photogram

February 26, 2008

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982).
Untitled (Schadograph no. 4), 1919.



Poster for the publishing house Gosizdat,1924
(portrait of Lilya Brik shouting out the word “books”)

Portrait of Vladimir Mayakovsky, 1924

Pro eto. Ei i Mne. (About This. To Her and to Me.)
(A. Rodchenko) V. Mayakovsky,
Moscow, 1923

Alexander Rodchenko
Photomontage for front and back cover of
Mayakovsky’s A Conversation with a Tax-collector about Poetry, 1926.

El Lissitsky

El Lissitsky selfportrait: The Constructor, 1924

Münchner Illustrierte Zeitung – Cover,
1918, 2 March

Tom Howard
Ruth Snyder’s Death Pictured, 1928
gelatin silver, 10 x 8 inches